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Tobin Seagel: Chasing Dreams in the Monashee Mountains

Tuesday, December 20, 2016
During a recent cat-skiing trip to British Columbia’s Monashee Mountains, BD Ambassador Tobin Seagel spent four days with a crew of wealthy entrepreneurs—people he thought were his polar opposites. But after a few blissful days enjoying deep, backcountry powder, Seagel realized they had more in common than he thought…

What do you want out of your life? Money? Love? A new pair of Jimmy Choos?

I’m sitting at a dinner table with the guests of Monashee Powder Snowcats outside of Revelstoke, Canada, watching the snow pile up on our skis outside. The guests at this cat-skiing lodge in the Monashee Mountains have come from a variety of un-snowy places, like Texas and California, to immerse themselves in British Columbia’s legendary ski culture. They come here to take a step back from their high-power, high-stress lives and recharge in the solitude of the snowy mountains.

All Images: Reuben Krabbe, Words: Tobin Seagel

Sitting here at the table surrounded by real estate developers, bankers, entrepreneurs and tech whiz kids decked out in Salvatore Ferragamo dress shirts, I wonder if anyone notices the faint smell wafting from the wrinkled shirt I found stuffed in my ski bag. I’m a born and bred BC kid. My parents are geologists who raised my brother and me to value the outdoors more than money. To me, the mountains are more than just a playground, and I wondered if these wealthy folks could appreciate them in the same way I do.

Dmitri, one of the guests, is loud and seems to love being the center of attention. I, on the other hand, am getting sweaty palms from the thought of having to make small talk with these financial heavyweights. I’ve painted on one of those artificial smiles I perfected in high school to cover up my social awkwardness and I quietly watch Dmitri run through another of his monologues. Face flushed and glassy-eyed, he holds up his glass of red wine high over his head as he recounts his day skiing deep snow.

“That was better than sex!” he shouts. I don’t know much about real estate development or the life of a CEO, so I was relieved that Dmitri had given me an “in” into the conversation.

“Nice one Dmitri, I must be doing this skiing thing all wrong!”

He waved his hands excitedly and laughed as he told everyone within earshot about his deepest turns (then crashing), jumping big cliffs (then crashing), and skiing into trees (and of course crashing).

“My day was about the same,” I chuckled. The tone of the conversation shifted slightly and he looked at me, took another swig of wine, his voice lowering a bit as his smile narrowed.

“I don’t know why I ended up with a successful business,” he said. “I don’t think I’m any better at it than anyone else, it’s just worked out. But you’re so lucky to be chasing your dreams in the mountains. That’s what I really dream of.”

I was floored by how candid he was—underneath all the designer clothes, these guys really are passionate about the mountains.

Skiing powder is a unifying element that just about everyone can agree kicks ass. But what is it about skiing powder that can bridge us so well? I guess skiing powder is like sex, riding bikes or eating gelato– all universal joys in life—because they are experiences that fill us with happiness and satisfaction.

I left Monashee Powder with new friends and a new appreciation for the chance to live my vision. I love how something as pointless and simple as skiing can at the same time enrich our lives so much by removing us from societal pressures and giving us connections to the environment, ourselves and each other.

Although we came together in the Monashees from very different places in life, for those four days we were all living the same dream.

—Tobin Seagel

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